By Vina Medenilla
Agriculture is the primary livelihood of many families in the Philippines.
However, with many local farmers already reaching middle age, the government continues to encourage Filipino youth to participate in agriculture.
One young farmer that shares the same goal is Gwenneth R. Brillo, 24, owner of Brillo Integrated Farm in Callao, Alicia, Isabela.
At a young age, Brillo owns and manages a two-hectare farm that consists of a rice field, a fish pond, vegetable patch, poultry area, nursery, a farmhouse, two classrooms, and oyster mushroom production facility.
Her desire to follow in her father’s footsteps led her to pursue a career in agriculture.
“[My father] made me experience activities on our farm since I was a little. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve kept that passion for agriculture and now, I work as a full-time farmer.”
Brillo is an agribusiness graduate who took a professional education course in agriculture, fisheries, and arts in 2018. The following year, she passed the licensure examination for teachers.
Although a job offer in a senior high school awaited her at that time, God had other plans for Brillo, and that is to be a young farmer-teacher.
Young farmer at work
Brillo worked as a trainer in different farm schools in 2019 where she used her voice to encourage and motivate the youth in agriculture.
After working for other farms, Brillo learned how crucial it was to run her own. This prompted her to establish Brillo Integrated Farm.
In 2020, her farm was given certification as an ATI’s Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA) under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Owing to this, the farm received a P100,000 grant for the construction of its classroom, plus technical assistance for farm enhancement.
The ATI certification also assisted Brillo to make her farm a TESDA-accredited training provider.
What it takes to be a working farm
This LSA primarily produces different varieties of inbred rice including NSIC RC 222, 400, 160, 440, and 402.
These varieties usually take more than 100 days to be ready for harvest. During harvest season, the farm yields six to seven tons of rice per hectare.
To grow rice, Brillo follows an Integrated Crop Management (ICM) system called PalayCheck. It includes eight stages or recommendations that farmers need to follow to boost productivity and profitability of crops, while also minimizing the environmental impact of rice farming.
Brillo grows everything naturally and does not apply harmful fertilizers and insecticides to the crops. She also practices intercropping to control pests and reduce the chances of insect infestation.
The farm is diversified with various crops and elements. Aside from rice, it also grows mushrooms, vegetables, fruit-bearing trees, and animals like goats, rabbit kits, ducks, chickens, and tilapia fingerlings.
The animals are fed with cracked corn and darak at six in the morning and five in the afternoon. Brillo also hired a private veterinarian to check the animals regularly.
As of the interview, Brillo Integrated Farm has two training halls for the Farm Field School (FFS) and agricultural crop production training.
Aside from providing training, other farm activities that visitors can avail of are fish and grill, animal feeding, vegetable picking, or they can also play sports like volleyball and basketball. Guests can stay overnight and enjoy the farm amenities, such as the mini library.
Brillo Integrated Farm earns no less than 20,000 every month by offering the aforementioned products and services.
Because of the farm components, Brillo can also provide jobs to the community. She employs 10 young workers for the farm school, two men for agriculture supply and farm machinery services, and three women staff for farm maintenance.
As a thriving young agripreneur, Brillo hopes her story and experiences will set an example and prove that there is food, money, and contentment in agriculture, especially when maximized and used efficiently.
Photos from Brillo Integrated Farm
For more information, visit Brillo Integrated Farm